One of our first tasks of autumn is spent around the ponds thinning out reeds from the pond margins, removing decaying vegetation and covering the top pond with netting to keep it free of plane tree leaves. Of course, some less invasive pond management takes place throughout the year...
Here in July, Nadia enjoyed cooling off in the coracle whilst pruning willow on the floating moorhen island. The island was at risk of blowing over - the thick growth of willow acting as a sail:
This summer we had a build up of least duck weed (Lemna minuta) that threatened to block out light to the submerged aquatic plants in one of the ponds.
Veolia Environmental Services’ volunteers take a break from skimming duck weed off the top pond to reduce its cover
Common reed (Phragmites australis) is a beautiful plant in all seasons but given half a chance it’ll romp away across the pond reducing the area of open water and shading out less robust marginal pond plants such as marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), water mint (Mentha aquatica) and ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi).
A little surreptitious reed weeding happens in summer...
...but in October we get into more serious reed-pulling along with thinning of other tall marginals such as great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) and hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum).
Most insect larvae will have hatched and left the pond but there is still plenty of life in the ponds and in the mud and so plant thinning is confined to one short section of the pond to minimise disturbance.
The moorhens kept away but they surprised a few frogs:
Nicky and Sean's work complete!
Finally, the least popular autumn pond task is covering the top pond with netting to protect it from the falling plane tree leaves. The net is placed over a pyramidal structure in the centre of the pond.
Alex and I drew the short straws and had to wade into the water on one of the coldest days so far this month, but unfortunately (for him) Alex got the really short straw - leaky waders! The longest straw went to Sophia, who got to stand on the dry bank to take these photographs.
Struggling to place the 'pyramid' into the centre of the pond
Pegging down the net to hold it in place to catch the falling leaves
The ‘pyramid’ was designed and constructed by the Saturday volunteer team 3 years ago using coppiced alder, cherry and hazel, and is now a little fragile.
More about leaves to follow next week but i,n the meantime, something that happened back in October:
Tommy, Nadia and Alex collecting the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme’s Wildlife Garden Award from the Mayor in Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall
Damian, Rama and Pam collecting the President’s Trophy for the best overall prize winner in the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme this year
Thank you to ALL our volunteers for helping us to win these awards!